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New Year, New You!

It’s a new year and now is the time to make wellness and a healthy lifestyle a priority. Start off the new year right with better food choices designed to improve women’s health. There are several, easy and affordable ways to cut calories, increase nutrient intake and feel better about your food choices.

Eat More Food

Eating more food simply means eating more whole foods or food that has not been processed in some manner. Whole foods like apples, unsalted almonds and fresh berries can be a healthier choice for a mid-morning snack versus even a low-fat granola bar. With a whole apple, unsalted nuts and other whole food choices, your body enjoys important nutrients that can help fight heart disease and even breast cancer.

Nutrition tip: A single serving of unsalted almonds (about seven almonds) has 22 milligrams of calcium plus fiber, iron, magnesium, vitamin E and other essential nutrients. It’s a heart-smart snack.

Produce Versus Processed

Spend some time in the produce section of your grocery store, make it your first stop when shopping. The middle aisles of most grocery stores are home to processed items like boxed dinner kits, sugar-laden sauces and cereals with added nutrients. Instead of relying on a box of cereal for your daily recommended amount of fiber or vitamins, look to whole food choices like sweet potatoes, a good source of fiber as well as vitamin A. Fill your cart with a variety of different fresh fruits and vegetables. Make a promise to yourself to try at least one new fruit or vegetable every week or every visit to the store.

The Mayo Clinic reports that blueberries are packed with phytonutrients that have the potential to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers. If fresh blueberries aren’t in season, opt for frozen blueberries packaged without any preservatives or additives like sugar. Toss a handful into the blender with a cup of Greek yogurt, one-half cup of unsweetened orange juice and a medium banana for an easy, delicious and nutrient-rich smoothie.

Read the Label

When you do opt for packaged items, remember to read the nutrition label to stay on track with your healthy food choices and portion control. Often we underestimate the actual size of a single serving. At the top of the nutrition label is the serving size — always check there first, because what you may think is a single or two serving item, may really be three, four or more servings per package. Check the labels and avoid packaged items with trans-fats and high percentages of cholesterol, sugar and sodium.

Everyone can make healthier food choices in the new year. Start by adding fresh berries to a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast instead of flying out the door with a donut high in saturated fat. Grab a handful of unsalted almonds when the 2 p.m. munchies hit instead of a candy bar from the vending machine. Swap out French fries for a baked sweet potato. Don’t forget to drink your water. You can do this. The smallest change can make a difference. It’s a new year and anything is possible.